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High school seniors spend W4m for essay tutoring: data

Nov. 27, 2023 - 14:08 By Park Jun-hee
High school seniors walk out of Ewha Womans University in Seodaemun-gu, western Seoul, after taking essay tests for admission to the university in 2024, Sunday. (Yonhap)

South Korean high school senior students spent some 4 million won ($3,060) on average last year to receive tutoring on the college entrance essay test to learn how to write a good composition, government data showed Monday. They also paid more than 1 million won annually for college admissions counseling.

According to data released by the Education Ministry and Statistics Korea on students’ private education spending in 2022, the average monthly expenditure for 12th graders who engaged in out-of-school college and career counseling stood at 90,000 won, amounting to 1.08 million won a year.

Expenses were more costly in places like Gangnam’s Daechi-dong in Seoul -- the hub of private education in Korea -- where college and career counseling can cost millions of won per session, according to reports quoting sources’ knowledge of the market rate of tutoring services.

Some of the benefits students received through private coaching were building a strong profile by participating in additional services and extracurricular activities that could help them rise to the top of the pile in admissions offices.

In the same period, high school senior students spent 330,000 won per month on average for private tutoring to prepare for essay tests for university admission, as schools accept high-scoring essay writers as long as they meet their minimum required Suneung scores.

Critics say high school senior students avail themselves of private education to access the benefits of public education resources and gather information about colleges they are considering.

For example, the Korean Council for University Education, a representative association of four-year universities in Korea, currently provides details of various career paths students can explore, college choices and university admission strategies. But students and parents typically prefer gaining information from the private sector, as it promises better educational outcomes and offers tailor-made application plans.

Song Gyeong-won, a member of the minor opposition Justice Party’s policy committee, pointed out that students and parents here resort to college admissions consultants because they do not gain enough guidance from school counselors.